- Danish brewing giant Carlsberg is now in the prototype phase on its initiative to produce a sustainable, bio-based, fully recyclable beer bottle called the "Green Fibre Bottle."
- There are two prototypes of the new bottles, and both are made from sustainably sourced wood fibers. One is lined with a recycled polyethylene terephthalate polymer film barrier and the other contains a 100% bio-based polyethylene furanoate polymer film barrier.
- The company has been developing the idea since 2015. "While we are not completely there yet, the two prototypes are an important step towards realising our ultimate ambition of bringing this breakthrough to market," Vice President of Group Development at Carlsberg Group Myriam Shingleton said in a release.
The development of a durable paper bottle could change the beverage industry. Although Carlsberg's new packaging is still very much in the development stage and will not be ready to release for mass production for several years, it could be a game changer. The company said prototypes are being tested, but there is no specification as to whether that means in limited markets or internally.
This project has been a focus for Carlsberg since 2015 when it first partnered with packaging companies EcoXpac and BillerudKorsnäs as well as post-doctoral researchers from the Technical University of Denmark. Four years later, not only is the brewer testing prototypes, but the efforts have resulted in the creation of a paper bottle company named Paboco, which is garnering the interest of other consumer packaged goods companies.
Carlsberg's prototype paper bottles also seemed to have attracted attention from other big name companies who could want a similar product. Coca-Cola and Pernod Ricard-owned Absolut will now become a part of the "paper bottle community," an effort launched by Paboco, according to the release. The community brings together companies and experts to work on sustainable packaging.
This is not the first sustainable packaging effort from Carlsberg. Last year, the company announced it would ditch the plastic rings that connect its multi-packs of its beer and replace them with glue, a move the company said could reduce global plastic waste globally by more than 1,200 metric tons a year. This Snap Pack technology appeared after three years of testing — less than what it is taking to develop the paper bottles — and reduces the amount of plastic used in traditional multi-packs by up to 76%. Furthermore, Carlsberg recently switched the inks on its bottle labels to improve recyclability.
These innovations go hand-in-hand with the company's efforts to have zero carbon emissions at its breweries and a 30% reduction in its full-value-chain carbon footprint by 2030. Earlier this year, the company released a report on its sustainability goals. It shows the company improved energy efficiency and reduced relative carbon emissions across operations by 5% last year. Since 2015, the report says, overall carbon levels have been reduced by a fifth and the use of coal as a power source diminished by 78%.
As consumers increasingly make purchases based on a company's sustainability efforts, these green moves seem to be helping Carlsberg's sales. The Carlsberg Group's 2018 net revenue rose 3% to $9.53 billion, which was the first sales jump in three years for the Danish company. This increase also makes it one of the few big beer brands to post positive numbers. Most of its volume growth came from craft and specialty beer brands, which were up 26%.
These obvious bottom-line rewards for committing to sustainability in a way that is more than just promises may get the attention of other CPG companies struggling for growth. While paper beer bottles are not yet accessible to the mainstream, companies can be confident that the idea will go over well with consumers as paper cartons in the water industry have already become a popular alternative. Expanding this packaging across other beverages seems like a logical evolution that beverage manufacturers might consider pursuing if they want to continue to grab the attention of modern consumers.